Shake N Bake takes a well-earned timeout on her way north from Cabo San Lucas

by Bill Monroe

June 13, 2015

Pha Her of Portland hoists a 25-pount yellowtail, his first, caught off Cedros Island, Baja California. Bill Monroe

CEDROS ISLAND, Baja California – Yellowtail wasn’t on my bucket list, but probably should have been.Until I scratched it off Saturday, that is.

Cedros Island, a large, arid land mass ironically adjacent to Navidad Island (no Christmas trees here), sits about
Halfway up the Pacific Coast of Baja California.

While it may seem a dry wasteland, as usual there’s far more to anywhere than meets the eye.

Whales, dolphins, sea lions, elephant seals and even endangered mule deer species call the island home.

We cruised north out of Turtle Bay, barely two hours before reaching Cedros and exploring the coastline. Up the inner, or lee of the island, little life was showing until a Mexican Navy boat roared our way and brought us to a halt to inspect both Mike Colbach’s boat, “Shake N Bake” and all the paperwork.

The sailors were courteous and thorough. We passed, of course, signed the affidavit saying we were treated with respect and went on our way to Cedros harbor.

Cedros – from the harbor, the church is the nicest-looking building in town – is a small community supporting most of the few thousand people living on the island.

Many work in a large salt-mining operations on the island’s south end, while others live the small fishing village of Cedros, a few miles north of the salt mines and large enough to support a couple good restaurants (cantinas), a small Costco (Costcito), commercial purse seiners, abalone divers and a few fishing resorts.

We found the best – Cedros Outdoor Adventures, carved from fossilized granite and rock within walking distance of town and the small harbor.

Here, Jose Angel Sanchez Pacheco has created an ideal fishing camp overlooking

resort in mexico

Cedros Outdoor Adventures is a fishing resort (no pool, amenities) perched above the Yellowtail capital of the world.Bill Monroe

the calm sea, softly lapping a rocky beach below the cliff. Pacheco, born in Mexico City, hated the hustle and bustle and all the people. He and his wife discovered what is described as the “yellowtail capital of the world.” Pre-selling enough trips to start building their dream, the couple paid it off within three years and now have clients from across the nation, “including Oregon,” he said in perfect English.

His fleet of pangas, each equipped with state-of-the-art locator equipment (one is named “Sushi Bar”), cycle clients back and forth around the south end of the island in what amounts to kind of a yellowtail heaven.

Pacheco sent us out with Capt. David Miranda to help tutor us on yellowtail techniques. The tutoring paid off with a pair of 25-pounders.

Mine struck a trolled Rapala lure, sucking all three treble hooks into its gullet. Yellowtail, members of the jack family, are among the hardest fighting fish, offering a tug-of-war that can tire you before it tires the fish.

In my experience, only an albacore fights harder. A second fish simply broke the line as if it were a spider web.

Pha Her, a Portland quality control technician for Acumed (Hillsboro) brought along his own fishing rod and caught a second 25-pounder on an iron lure, jigged from the bottom in 50 feet of water.

The fishing here is stunning (skipper Mike Colbach caught a nice California halibut), the ocean tranquil and cool, the people gracious and giving and, most important, the bucket list is well-served.

From here, we’ll leave Sunday morning for San Diego.

It’s a 240-mile trip, requiring another overnighter at sea, about 40 miles offshore of the Baja coast.

Skipper Colbach has plenty of fuel, the forecast (knock on wood) is for calm seas (about time!) and tuna await us north of Ensenada.

— Bill Monroe